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Super Bowl LI Preview

The Super Bowl is this Sunday in Houston and we will preview what should be a great matchup between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. However, that doesn’t mean a lot hasn’t already happened during Super Bowl media week.

So far this media week, we have learned a ton. Some of what came to light includes Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, and his mother’s health, which is weighing on him heavily this season as well as his strict diet and approach to staying healthy. We also learned Falcons’ receiver Julio Jones’ thoughts on how no one in the NFL can cover him one-on-one.

Devonta Freeman, running back on Atlanta, was asked if contract talks were distracting, but responded saying “Dodging a bullet or something like that, that’s a distraction. That’s frustration, going to sleep every night thinking you might hear gun shots. That was the stuff that was distracting to me. This is football. Ain’t no distraction.”

But, media week wasn’t all about the players on each team. Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (and soon to be head coach of the San Francisco 49ers) lost his game plan for part of one day, only to discover a reporter had mistaken Shanahan’s bag for his own. When Pariots owner Robert Kraft was asked how long Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wants to coach, he responded “We have a pact that we don’t talk about that. He knows and I know. But he won’t be done this year.”

The Matchup:

This Super Bowl is putting the top scoring offense in the NFL this season against the defense that allowed the fewest points this season. Lets break down three keys for each team to win the game.

For the Falcons to win, they must:

  1. Pressure Tom Brady. The only two times Brady has lost a Super Bowl was to the New York Giants, and in those games he was hit early and often. This will take Brady off his rhythm and disrupt his internal clock.

  2. Find creative ways to get the ball to Julio Jones. The All-Pro and arguably best receiver in the game can be game breaking, especially with the ball in his hands in space. While the Patriots will most likely be doubling Julio, Matt Ryan and Shanahan have to find a way to get Jones the ball.

  3. Take care of the football. The Falcons have been tremendous this year in ball security, only committing 11 turnovers, tied for fewest in the league with guess who, the Patriots.

For the Patriots to win, they must:

  1. Control the clock. One way to slow down that high powered Atlanta offense is to keep them off the field. If the Patriots can eat up clock running the ball and limit how many times the talented Falcons offense touches the ball, it could turn the tide.

  2. Find a way to limit Julio Jones. While it is very challenging to stop a receiver with the skills of Jones, if the Patriots can limit the damage he can do with double or even triple covering him, they will improve their chances of winning.

  3. Protect Tom Brady. If the Patriots offense line can give Tom Brady time to throw, he has shown time and time again that he can pick any defense apart. They did it in Denver this season against two All-Pro cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Tom Brady with a clean pocket is lethal against any team.

Overall, it should be a great game. We look forward to watching it this Sunday, at 6:30 pm, on FOX.

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